The latest word on the street is that Mr. Zardari is getting shunted out of the house on the hill as well as the ivory tower he dwells in complete solitude and indifference to the suffering of the poor mortals (especially Sindhis). Powers that be are said to be planning to swap him with Mr. Nawaz Sharif’s former minister and a close relative, Ishaq Dar. Having reluctantly handed power to a party the establishment never liked or trusted, it has now become clear that AZ’s tryst with power is more than hard a pill for the establishment to swallow.
The Jeay Sindh Mahaz has said that the crises being faced by Pakistan are not the product of one day but the outcome of wrong government policies during the last 62 years. Central executive committee of the party, which met in Radhan on Friday, discussed the political situation of the country. The meeting said the crises that had emerged in the shape of Kerry-Lugar bill, NRO, religious terrorism, bankruptcy of the state institutions, judicial crisis and corrupt practices of ministers and advisers were the logical result of bad governance of the rulers during the last 62 years.
Salam. To be honest, I was not surprised at all to find you and khakis on the same side of fence in case of Kerry-Lugar Bill (KLB). Only a naïve would have believed the radical statements you made about army’s role in politics in the waning months of Pervez Musharraf. How unfortunate! our politicians oppose GHQ’s intervention only selectively. The late Benazir Bhutto welcomed Musharraf’s move on October 12, the way you had hailed her military-sponsored expulsion from Prime Minster’s palatial secretariat. Back in 1980s, many believed her when she would challenge General Zia. On coming to power, she pinned Democracy Medal on General Beg’s malicious chest. Many believed you too when you would grill Musharraf ‘Saab’ (you did not like to call him a general). A year down the line and Shahbaz Sharif was found sneaking his way to GHQ’s in the thick of night.
Popular sentiment has always been wary of American influence in Pakistan. Successive governments while framing their relations with the US have tried to placate public mood by invoking notions such as ‘augmenting national defence’ to accepting the ground realities of power politics.
Why are TV pundits and commentators in the print media so worked up about President Asif Zardari allegedly throwing the country in America’s lap? President Zardari stands accused in this media trial of selling out to the United States and compromising national security by accepting the $1.5 billion a year US aid package popularly known as the Kerry-Lugar Bill. Before judging President Zardari, let us look at the last sixty years and see if he is any different from earlier rulers of Pakistan.
Zardari and his team have much in common with their predecessors when it comes to leaning on American crutches instead of hanging on to the notion of national sovereignty. In fact, this behaviour dates all way the back to Liaquat Ali Khan, the country’s first prime minister.
Ayesha Jalal, in her meticulously researched book The State of Martial Rule, writes that Pakistan requested a $2 billion loan from the US in October 1947, and Pakistani officials “admitted that the new state’s internal political situation depended upon its ties with Britain and the US.” It was the Americans who turned down Pakistan’s request.
“If your country will guarantee our territorial integrity, I will not keep my army at all.” These are not words of Asif Zardari but of Liaquat Ali Khan, speaking in response to an American journalist’s question in Washington DC in 1950. Pakistan was so far down on the priority list of the Americans that they didn’t seriously entertain our first prime minister’s offer to disband the military.
World Sindhi Congress Calls US Congressional Aid Bill to Pakistan, ‘A Step in the Right Direction’
Protection of common Peoples Must be Made Part of Future Checks and Balances
LONDON, The World Sindhi Congress joined many civil society groups in praising the decision of the US congress to promote regional peace and civil society in Pakistan by conditionally allocating civilian and military aid to Pakistan, based upon the Pakistani government’s adherence to democratic principles and international human rights agreements. The ‘S.962 Enhanced Partnership to Pakistan Act of 2009’, also known as the Kerry-Lugar Bill, was signed last week by President Obama, and authorizes the five-year allocation of US $7.5 billion dollars to Pakistan for civilian, educational, technical and capacity-building purposes. Furthermore, this bill incorporates new checks and balances designed to ensure the proper distribution of the money for civilian government, and deter the appropriation of the funds by Miltary establishment…
As representatives of the global Sindhi community, World Sindhi Congress deeply appreciates Senator Kerry and Senator Lugar for their efforts in safeguarding the rights of oppressed nations and other religious minorities in Pakistan by introducing a bill that upholds the fundamental human rights of citizens and demands an end to the disappearances of dissidents…
“I am the big supporter of Kerry Lugar bill which also contains rights of Baloch, Sindh, and Pashtun nations. Few days back few journalists misquoted my press statement. Jeay Sindh Quomi Mahaz, JSQM (Long Live Sindh National Front) supports the Kerry Lugar bill and it will also spread awareness about the importance of Kerry Lugar bill among the nation,” JSQM Chairman Bashir Qureshi Said in his press statement.
Press Conference : Gentlemen, a raging debate has started in the country about the about the contents of the Kerry-Lugar Bill. Electronic media has especially had a field day and so has the print media which is also plastered with the news of the Bill on daily basis.
…Origional bill contained important points in favor of the indigenous people of Sindh, Balochistan and NWFP. The negotiating team from Pakistan got it amended and deleted the point in our favor. Right Wing extremists and establishment has been protesting against even the present aid bill that demands continuity of civilian and democratic set up. We need to encounter right wing propaganda by demanding the implementation of original version.
There is so much of noise against Kerry-Lugar bill as if this was the first time ever Pakistan is receiving any assistance without strings attached. From the days of Baghdad Pact to SEATO, Ayub Khan’s rule to Zia’s satanic era to recent 9 years of Musharraf’s dictatorship Pakistani state, security forces, business, and urban citizens have been benefactor of begged and borrowed prosperity. It doesn’t matter who do we receive an assistance from whether it is World Bank, Friends of Pakistan, EC, Saudi Arabia, or even from Japan and China it has not been without the nod of either USA or “Soviet Union”.
Given how a big chunk of the aid money goes back to American, the US needs a new approach if it really means to change the economic situation in this troubled region. No project will become feasible if it is managed by US NGOs.
The United States wants to transform its relationship with Pakistan into a deeper, broader, long-term strategic engagement with the people of Pakistan. The Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act (S.1707), also known as the Kerry-Lugar bill, was designed to help turn the page in our bilateral relationship by moving beyond a military relationship to one where the United States engages directly with the people of Pakistan as a true ally and friend.
Islamabad – The government is gently moving in a direction where it may reject the Kerry-Lugar Bill in its present shape. The rejection will be accompanied by a request to he US Congress and the Obama administration for an understanding of Pakistan’s sovereignty and its right to decide issues of national security and foreign policy, according to several senior Pakistani officials and an important federal cabinet minister, the sources said.
Now they don’t like various political parties having direct contact with Washington. I wonder how they would justify the direct contact of army chiefs and a strong spy agency’s chiefs and other generals have with Washington (and with visitors from every other power)? Why is it OK for them to run their own foreign policy, but not OK for the elected Prime minister, President and Foreign minister to do the same??
Lets see what happens. My guess is that the US embassy will do what the US president does with congress, bribe them by increasing the unmonitored goodies (announced or unannounced). But will the army bite? On past performance, one would guess they will. Its hard to see how a rift with their paymasters and a revival of jihadism will help the property values in sector E-7, but one must keep in mind that these are generals who think of themselves as amazing trapeze artists who can fly through the air and grab that handhold at the last possible moment. They may be calculating that Obama has absolutely no choice in this matter since a face-saving exit from Afghanistan depends mostly on ISI cooperation. This perception has probably been bolstered by Obama’s very public wavering over Afghanistan, but the problem I see is that even if they are correct and Anne Patterson gives them their India-specific Jihadis and even their “good taliban”, it is the jihadists who will not stick to the script. In the long run, this extortion is a recipe for disaster (some would argue that so is meek acceptance of the American plans, but we may have to compare disaster to disaster and see which nasty medicine tastes a shade better)….
I can hear some people saying “China will bail us out” or “Saudi Arabia will take up the slack”. Well, we will see. I don’t think so…
If anyone has any doubts left about who is orchestrating the opposition to the Kerry Lugar bill, they should read Kamran Khan’s column. It seems the main sticking point is not the Kashmiri Jihadis or even the blessed “good Taliban”. Its the fact that bloody civilians may try to “interfere” in the army that is supposedly subservient to the same “bloody civilians”. Unfortunately, the short sighted Mian brothers have opted for the politically expedient and suicidal route of supporting the corpse commanders on this issue….
Ultimately, after the US consultants and intermediaries have taken their cut, Pakistan will get about three to four hundred million dollars which cannot do much when the country is several billion dollars short of its obligations and needs.
The saga of the Kerry-Lugar aid bill to Pakistan has become as surreal as it can get. Every concerned sane person is wondering what the fuss is about. Conditions attached to this bill are the same as in most previous such bills. Furthermore, why is such a big deal being made out of the bill when it cannot go very far in pulling Pakistan out of its ongoing economic crisis?